The Fayette Citizen-Opinion Page
Wednesday, September 16, 1998
Absent McIntosh, SATs are below U.S. average

Letters from Our Readers

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I would like to inform the citizens of Fayette that the Concerned Parents for a Better Fayette Education group has launched its own website on Access Atlanta. The address is:

The site has a great deal of information about our group and our concerns with the UCSMP math programs in the Fayette Public Schools. We also have a copy of our petition requesting a review for mathematics in Fayette County. Anyone who would like to sign our petition may do so simply by printing one out, signing it, and mailing it to the address listed at the bottom of the page. For those who do not have Internet access at home or work can go to the public library and access our site. You may even copy the text of the petition by hand if necessary.

The next meeting for the Concerned Parents will be on Thursday, Sept. 17 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Fayette County Public Library in Fayetteville, located behind the County Complex. We will be discussing the presentation that we plan to make to the Board of Education at their Sept. 21 session. The public is invited to attend.

I am hoping that some of you have seen some improvements in the math instruction that your children are experiencing this year. I am interested to know if the direct instruction vs. constructivism issue is being dealt with to your satisfaction.

In other words, I would like to hear from middle and high school parents via e-mail or regular mail if your child is being taught concepts in class prior to any homework or classroom assignments, or if your child is still being asked to "teach" himself by reading the lesson, then engaging in homework on the new concepts.

The latter method provides for classroom instruction the next day in class, only after the child has attempted to teach herself first. This constructivist approach to learning is one of the concerns that our group has posted on our web site.

If you would like to e-mail a response to this question, please send to: or write a response and mail it to the address listed below. I will post the results of the informal poll in a future letter.

Finally, I would like to say a word or two about standardized test scores in Fayette County. Several weeks ago, the state report cards were issued based on SAT scores statewide. Once again, Fayette County was listed at the top of the state.

While this is somewhat comforting, we should be realistic in our interpretation of these findings. Out of 16 public systems in the metro Atlanta area, McIntosh High School ranks sixth out of 93 high schools metro wide. Their performance on the SAT is exemplary.

Out of the same 93 high schools, Sandy Creek was tied for 25th place, and Fayette County High School was tied for 27th. Considering the socioeconomic indicators present in Fayette County, one would expect our students to fare pretty well on standardized test measures.

Other mitigating factors are present too, such as participation in SAT prep courses and the frequency with which students are tutored, either at home by parents, or by people in the private sector.

However, if you remove McIntosh from the equation, whose overall SAT average is 58 points above that of Sandy Creek and 61 points above Fayette County High School's score, our students would be below national average, and hovering just a few points above the state average.

One might argue that in Fayette County, based on the educational attainment levels of the parents and on economic indicators, children should be scoring considerably higher.

The slight dip in scores at McIntosh and Sandy Creek are probably not considered significant, but do warrant our attention. Fayette County registered an increase of 11 points over scores last year.

These results, coupled with the results on the ITBS for the lower grades, should motivate us to actively seek ways to improve education.

Back in July, the Concerned Parents group reported that third and fifth grade ITBS scores were increasing on average by small increments on the math total measure as well as the computational measure, and that total math scores were the same as the sub score for computation in both grades.

In contrast, we also reported that the eighth grade math total score was 70, but the score on computation was 56.

In addition, we were able to extract three cohort groups of fifth graders, and their subsequent eighth grade scores three years later. What we found was a drop for all three cohort groups in all three computational measures whole numbers dropped on average 8.8 points, fractions dropped on average 5.7 points, and decimals dropped on average 9.7 points.

This downward slope between fifth and eighth grade is mirrored nationally and cause for concern.

In closing, let's be optimistic but not complacent about Fayette County public education. We have enormous potential in this county, and resources to back it up. Let us be diligent and unswaying in our pursuit of academic excellence. Rather than sitting comfortably as highest in the state, let's strive for highest in the nation.

Amy Riley
146 Ardenlee
Peachtree City, GA 30269

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